Directed Writing: Format of a Newspaper Report

  1. Newspaper article

    Newspaper article

    To begin with ‘Newspaper reports’ must have a Headline.

Headlines are a kind of summary in note form, leaving out unnecessary words. Their aim is to attract reader interest in the minimum amount of space and indicate the attitude the report will adopt. Headlines tend to be:

  1. consist of a maximum of six words
  2. contain sensational vocabulary (e.g crash, tragic)
  3. use short words (usually no longer than two syllables)
  4. use the shortest synonyms (e.g. weds for marries)
  5. use the present tense for events in the recent past
  6. leave out definite and indefinite articles (i.e. ‘the’ and ‘a’)

Examination Tip: Popular newspapers like to use the following devices in their headlines

  • Puns – Japanese yen for success
  • Assonance- Hit list twist
  • Alliteration – Fears of free fall
  • Quotations – For richer, for poorer
  • Misquotations 

2. Newspaper reports generally follow this order.

1. summary of recent event.The first few sentences must answer the question Who? What? When? Where? and How? About the event, followed by Why?

2.      Proceeding paragraph should talk about the background leading to the event

3.      The later part of the report must return to the immediate situation

4.      The closing part should consist some response of those involved in the event.

5.      The report concludes with looking ahead of near future.

3. Difference between other forms of reports with that of newspaper report.

a.They follow no specific order, newspaper reports follow a chronological order given above

b. Secondly newspaper reports do not involve any emotional responses or personal views of the reporter, or any direct address to the reader. On the other hand accounts may have personal responses of the viewer.

c. Do not confuse it with other reports.

d. Use passive voice and avoid the use of ‘I’ pronoun in newspaper report.

e. Keep the language simple because remember the newspaper report is read by everyone, it is not restricted to a specific audience.


Report Writing Format: A detailed answer


What is the format to write a report?

Generally short formal reports begin as:





Is the format to write a report in O-Level examination similar?

The answer is the same, no specific format is followed.

Suggested Format on Report writing for O-Level Students

1. However, O Level teachers need to know that in CIE,  Paper1- Directed Writing, formats are not important.

1a. The examiner is only concerned with how well the candidate structures his/her report.

1b .Was he/her able to maintain an appropriate register(Register means the use of accurate words and vocabulary required for a formal report).

1c .Has the student answered all the rubric points.

2. The best expected way to begin a report in O-level English paper is to write ‘Sir and put the date adjacent to it. Just begin your report. ( no specific way to write the date as well. Write is 11th November 2012 or Nov,11 2012…whatever you desire.)

3. The first paragraph should tell what the report is about. If you are reporting about an event then in the first paragraph you should also inform the reader when and where the event took place.

4. The second paragraph should tell how the entire event took place and some eye catching relevant incidents worth mentioning  must be added.

5. The last paragraph should add some suggestions and concluding remarks from your side. But keep in mind that it should be entirely objective. Sometimes in the question the examiner asks the candidate to provide some suggestions, in that case you are free to add subjective remarks.

6. End by writing ‘ signature’ and your name.

7. Keep your language simple and use passive voice to give an impersonal tone to your report. For example, ‘ it was observed’ instead of  stating “I saw” or ‘I observed’

8. The use of ‘I’ pronoun is permitted unless the event is witnessed by you. On the contrary, ‘I’ pronoun is not generally used in reports as it adds a personal shade to your reporting. Thus, the candidate needs to be careful in its use and choose appropriate words to maintain an impersonal tone.

9. Do not exceed the word limit i.e 200-300 words

9. Also view my post on Newspaper Reports to see the difference in writing accounts, reports and newspaper reports.

10. Do not confuse it with letter writing. (Pakistani students often tend to do that as they have been taught letter writing since their early classes).

Good luck!

Revision Guide for O-Level Students

Check list designed by  CIE examiners for the preparation of O-Level English Language subject code-1123

Checklist – tick if against the column you have worked on something similar

Skill: All students should be able to: Those taking the Extended examination should also be able to Ways in which the skills might be practised (appropriate contexts
Reading.Locating specificinformation asquickly as possible =Skimming Read short non-fiction texts, such asleaflets, news reportsand advertisements Cope with more detailed andextensive informative texts • Looking at leaflets, reports, guidelines
• Analysing brochures
Reading.Locating more detailed information;looking morecarefully= Scanning Read longer non-fiction texts, such as articles from newspapers andmagazines Cope with longerand more challenging articles • Reading similar articles (in style and in length) to those seen frequently in past examination papers
• Reading factual articles
• Extracting relevant information from articles
Reading & Writing.Integrated reading and writing 1. Read a text which contains information andrespond using therelevant material from the text Convey a thoroughunderstanding by writing a lengthy response in adifferent genre from the original text • Practising using the same material in different genres
• Practising writing formal letters
  2. Understanddescriptive texts and select relevantinformation and phrases from them Select, explain and analyse the effect of the usage ofcertain phrases in the text • Reading passages from literary texts and identifying the ways in which feeling or atmosphere have been         created
  3. Adopt an appropriate voice in which to express a response to a text Adopt a sophisticated orofficial persona • Practising using different registers and styles for different aims according to                                                specific tasks
  4. Show awareness of audience Target your audience • Practise using devices which show ability to address your audience directly and manipulate its response
  5. Write short summaries Summarise through Note-taking • Writing a summary based on a set of notes of between 7 and 15 points
• Practising the use of own words
• Becoming familiar with the concise and precise language of summary style
Writing 1. Describe, discuss, argue and narrate Carry out longer writing tasks on a range of topics, paying attention tostructure, sequence and style • Writing descriptions of events,places, people using all five senses and imagery
• Planning openings and endings to stories
• Structuring and supporting points for an argument
  2. Use language for a specific purpose, e.g. to persuade, toconsider, to evaluate, to inform, to entertain, toconvey an impression Create sustained and cohesive responses tocontinuous writing tasks,showing an awareness of the generic characteristics ofdifferent types of writing • Writing (and performing) debate speeches
• Balancing ideas for and against a discussion topic
• Analysing the devices used in letters, articles and editorials stating a point of view
• Writing stories which have gripping openings, pace,dialogue, climax,strong endings